Today cloud sharing services are in vogue, with providers offering 2GB of storage to infinite storage, all for prices ranging from free to thousands each month. There’s a reason for the popularity of the cloud – gone are the days of filling inboxes with email attachments and having team members scattered when it comes to the logistics of reviewing and commenting on documents. Although collaborative tools have long been in existence in enterprise settings, the convenience of the cloud allows small businesses to implement centralized file share and review systems without requiring an information technology team.
Despite the boosts to productivity cloud file sharing provides, one of the biggest concerns to many businesses is security. In a recent survey of business owners by global strategy and consulting firm IntraLinks, when it comes to online file sharing 63% confirmed that security is the most important aspect when selecting a provider. Unfortunately, while it is easy for a vendor to promise security, actually delivering on those promises is a whole different situation. Fortunately, by following a few simple tips, businesses can ensure their data is secure while in the cloud.
Encrypt Your Files Yourself. The first tip is that when uploading files to the cloud, encrypt them yourself even if the vendor already uses encryption. The reason being that some encryption schemes have backdoors in them for various reasons, meaning that while your data might appear to be private, the cloud provider will have the ability to view your data. Although many companies are honest, when it comes to securing sensitive data, it is better to be safe than sorry. TrueCrypt is a leading program which provides military grade encryption for free. By being open source meaning the code is open, users can be assured it is free of backdoors.
Make Sure Your Online Server is Secure. In cases where online collaboration is necessary, self-encryption becomes prohibitive because it prevents the applications from functioning properly. Fortunately online security has come a long way from the days of people running companies via servers hosted in their closets. Today virtually all reputable sharing services house their servers in state of the art data centers which cost millions of dollars to fortify to meet today’s rigorous industry standards. When shopping around for a provider to house your files, make sure their facilities meet all applicable standards. For example, financial firms are required to use providers compliant with SAS70 while medical firms are required to utilize HIPAA compliant firms. Even if you are not in a regulated industry, going with a compliant host is a valuable perk as it provides an additional layer of security which can be verified by neutral third parties.
Don’t Put It In The Cloud If You Can’t Afford To Have It Leaked. The final rule of using online sharing services is to keep the following in mind – never put something in the cloud if you cannot afford to have it leaked to the public. Even with the greatest precautions, since technology changes so rapidly, what is secure today might be vulnerable tomorrow. As security is never absolute, never assume your data is completely safe in the cloud. Although the probability of data breaches often are low, occasionally providers slip up. In this case, having a contingency plan also is mandatory to protect from a worst case scenario.